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Understanding Cracks That Can Cause a Problem in a Home


A home is not a home unless it is secure and structurally sound, with no weak points that threaten its foundations. This means that sometimes a homeowner will discover cracks in the walls and ceiling, and they may immediately panic. Luckily, most cracks in all types of homes, even new construction, are completely normal and simply a sign that the house is settling.


If a crack, tear, or hole appears in the walls or ceiling of your home, how can you tell when it is a problem? You’ll find out what to do in this article.


Cracks in Plaster Walls in Older Homes Are a Common but Non-threatening Phenomenon


Where plaster walls were covered with wallpaper years ago to hide these cracks, plaster can be repaired by applying a thick coat of plaster to fill the crack and then sanding it smooth. More minor cracks can be filled by using putty. It is easier to repair before painting.


Hairline Cracks That Appear in a New Wall Is Normal


It is usual for minor cracks ranging from less than one millimetre wide to five millimetres wide to appear in new plaster walls. The plaster is the material applied over the wall, not the wall itself. Therefore, if you see cracks in the plaster, they can usually be filled and painted over.


When Do Cracks in a Wall Become a Problem?


Cracks can develop for various reasons. More minor cracks may appear randomly for no apparent reason and generally aren’t a cause for concern. However, cracks perpendicular to doorways or diagonally through an interior wall may indicate something more serious. 


Diagonal Cracks


When it’s been raining recently, and the walls have gotten damp, diagonal cracks typically form as the walls expand with moisture and then shrink as they dry. 


These cracks are expected, and you won’t be able to prevent them. New homes also have diagonal cracks. Instead of painting over them, wait for the plaster to absorb the excess moisture from the cracks before you paint over them.


Wide Cracks


A large crack of 25 millimetres or wider (2.5 centimetres or one inch) is more problematic, as the cause could be more severe than simply dried plaster or settling. This could mean the building needs underpinning to ensure stability. Or it could mean that the foundation has collapsed, destabilising the whole house.


Jagged Cracks


A crack running diagonally up the wall is a bad sign because it could be coming from the basement. A crack moving up the wall that looks like a staircase is probably a sign of structural movement. You should call in a structural engineer or a foundation-repair expert.


Cracks Around Window and Door Frame


Cracks in the wall near the top of door frames are caused by windows pulling away from the wall, while the crack running up from the bottom corner of a door or door frame indicates a more serious problem. These cracks are often caused by too much pressure applied to the house due to an unsupported wall or inadequate foundation. 




The most common cause of cracks in the walls, like a spider web of brown lines climbing the corners of the ceiling, is temperature or humidity fluctuations, which can result in tiny fissures, cracks, or tiny openings. They are usually not harmful to the house or its inhabitants, though they can cause aesthetic damage.


Shifting foundations cause a much more serious type of crack. They can indicate that the structure is not as stable as it originally appeared to be.


Looking for plastering services in Brisbane? We at Plaster & Recruit have a team of professionals who are experts in all aspects of plasterwork and rendering. We can diagnose if the underlying cause of cracks is due to soil settlement or other issues. Contact us today!

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